Taking the plunge into self-employment can be daunting, so we’ve put together a few simple pointers to consider.
Know your worth You may feel insecure as a newbie freelancer, but make sure you know what your skills are worth in the market. Undervalue yourself and you will have too much business but not enough profit. Set the bar too high and you may struggle to get enough work.
Get organised Create a work area at home, preferably with a door that you can shut when you stop work. You can always rent out studio or office space by the hour or the day if you need it. Set up simple accounting and admin systems, until you earn enough to hire people to do the dreary but necessary bits. If you are a registered Concept Personnel freelancer we can give you templates for essential documents and provide other support to get you started.
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Exercise your marketing muscles Even when you are working so hard you can’t remember when you last saw daylight, put in some marketing time every week, even if it’s just one phone call. You need to keep the sales pipeline and cashflow moving briskly. And if you’d rather have root canal work than sell yourself, talk to us about your skills set and availability and we’ll match you up with digital, advertising and marketing industry clients looking for your skills.
Keep up to date Stay up to date with what’s going on in your sector and maintain your skills, particularly if you work in digital media. When work is quiet, take the chance to do some training, whether it’s business management or furthering your technical skills.
Open all hours You will be tempted to take on too much, in case work dries up. Sometimes you will need to put in lots of overtime, but you won’t do yourself or your clients any favours by routinely working ridiculous hours. All you will do is wear yourself out, and watch your creativity and personal life suffer. Being freelance gives you flexibility so give yourself permission to take a long coffee break, meet friends for lunch or go for a run if you feel like it.
Down days There will be some days when all you want to do is return to the cosy security of your previous job. Yes, even the one you hated. To avoid feeling isolated build yourself a network of supportive people and organisations. A mentor who you can bounce ideas off and turn to for advice is invaluable, particularly in the early days.
It’s not you it’s me At first you will take all the work you can get. But eventually you will come across clients that you can’t please, no matter how hard you work and how good a result you achieve for them. Clients who take up too much headspace for not enough return are best politely turned away. And the same goes for bad payers.
The buck stops with you As a freelancer you will be your own boss. You’ll also be your own salesperson, creative director, accountant, and washer-upper.
It’s a great way to make a living, but it’s not for everyone. Remember that if you don’t settle to the freelance life, there is a big trend across the North East and Scotland for temporary contracts to turn into permanent positions.
So as well as being character building, the end of your stint as a freelancer could actually be the springboard to finding a better creative job.